West facing above-normal fire season with fewer resources - Tucson News Now

West facing above-normal fire season with fewer resources

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell provided a grim outlook for the 2013 fire season today.  

During a telephonic press conference, the two described how federal budget cuts mean fewer resources to tackle wildfires. 

Vilsack says there will be 500 fewer firefighters nationwide.  During the fire season, there are typically 10,500 firefighters on hand.  Out of the 1,000 engines usually available for wildfire efforts, the fleet will lose 50.

This year, significant fire potential is predicted to be above normal in much of the West, including almost all of Arizona, New Mexico, California and Oregon; and portions of Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and Washington.  

In 2012, 9.3 million acres of private, state, and federal land, and more than 4,400 structures burned in wildfires.  That was the third highest number of acres burned since at least 1960, the earliest date with reliable records.

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